The reality is that no one is in on the GM's conversations and it's virtually impossible to separate rumor from "source." But one storyline that keeps emerging is that the Pirates are trying to move Pedro Alvarez. From Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports earlier this week:
This is not new news. It was widely speculated that the Pirates were trying to move Alvarez last offseason as well. Like every trade, a trade of Pedro would hinge on the return. But in reading Passan's tweet you get the sense that the Pirates are almost willing to give him away, "...get rid of him" doesn't suggest they're holding out for the Queen's jewels.One other guy whose name is everywhere: Pedro Alvarez. Said one GM: "Pirates want to get rid of him. They're offering him to everybody."— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) July 23, 2015
And if that's the case, moving Alvarez would be a big mistake.
Guys who can play first base currently on the Pirates roster include Pedro Alvarez, Travis Ishikawa and Sean Rodriguez. Is it possible Aramis Ramirez or Neil Walker could play first? Sure, it's possible, but neither has played an inning at first in the majors and it's highly unlikely the Pirates would move one of those guys this week to fill a hole left by a departed Alvarez. So the obvious first question is, would some platoon of Ishikawa/Rodriguez or anyone else in the organization be better than the current situation which includes Alvarez? No, it wouldn't. Ishikawa is just a guy and SRod shouldn't get another at bat this season. He is a versatile defender and useful as the 25th man, late-inning defensive replacement. Nothing more.
I understand Alvarez's defense has been terrible. I have said repeatedly the single most surprising aspect of the Pirates 2015 season has been Alvarez's struggles to become an adequate defensive first baseman. His glove at third was fine. In fact, I think Pedro was underrated. He had good hands, was great coming in on balls, had good reactions and decent range. Somehow all those attributes have disappeared. On top of that, his instincts and feel for first base are non-existent. Clearly this is the big knock against Pedro.
But what else is there? While some in the fanbase will be forever critical because of Pedro's demeanor or appearance, there is not a shred of evidence that he is anything but well-liked by his teammates. With the bat? His power is tantalizing as evidenced by his opposite field shot on Thursday night and his massive bomb off Max Scherzer on Friday. But let's look more closely at El Toro's numbers. His career line entering the 2015 season:
.235/.307/.435 .742 OPS 105 OPS+ 29.6% SO 9.2% BB
Pedro in 2015 entering Sunday:
.235/.304/.434 .738 OPS 104 OPS+ 24.9% SO 8.6% BB
I'm guessing you won't find a player in all of major league baseball whose season line mirrors his career line more closely than Pedro Alvarez. Pedro has delivered exactly what the Pirates and their fans should have expected. Sure it's easy to dream on the 2013 NLCS and hope that Pedro would be that guy on a day-in, day-out basis, but that's not happening. And at this point in his career it's clear that he's a platoon player. Betting that his career line against lefties of .196/.266/.315 .581 in 591 PAs is going to change all of a sudden is playing against the odds. He is what he is.
If the Pirates are looking to just dump Pedro Alvarez and I'm an American League GM, how do I not take a flyer on this guy as the left-handed side of a DH platoon who's under control for one more year? Sure the OBP hurts, but he's still a power bat that can extend a lineup.
But the reality is the Pirates shouldn't move Pedro at the deadline. He's is 17th among all major league first basemen in wRC+. Unless there is a clear upgrade available, (Chris Davis from the Orioles, anyone?) I don't see how "getting rid of" Pedro makes any sense at all. In fact, I think it would clearly weaken the Pirates.